Florida legislature approves election law revisions

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[JURIST] The Florida House of Representatives [official website] on Thursday voted 77-38 to pass controversial legislation [HB 1355 materials] revising the state’s election laws, only hours after the Senate [official website] did so by a 25-13 margin. The bill limits the window for early voting to one week prior to an election, down from the previously established two weeks, and imposes a series of additional regulations on organizations that enlist new voters, including that they register with the state, submit periodic reports and file voter registration materials within 48 hours of completion. It also requires voters that have moved between any of the state’s counties to use provisional ballots if they wish to update their information while at a polling location. Opponents to the legislation charge that its design is politically motivated [AP report] to disproportionately affect Democratic constituencies, though its supporters argue that the measures are intended only to reduce election-related expenses and voter fraud. The bill will proceed to Governor Rick Scott [official website] for his signature or veto.

Earlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court [official website] upheld [JURIST report] the state’s 2006 Photo ID Act that requires voters to present one of six government-issued photo identifications in order to vote. The court ruled that the law “does not deprive any Georgia voter from casting a ballot in any election,” and that presenting valid identification does not represent an unconstitutional impediment to voting. In contrast, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] a portion of an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration in October. The court held that the law was inconsistent with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) [materials], which was passed with the intent of increasing voter registration and removing barriers to registration imposed by the states. The NVRA requires voters to attest to the validity of the information on their registration forms, including their citizenship, but does not require them to provide additional proof of citizenship. The law exceeded the federal statute, requiring applicants to show proof before registering to vote.

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